Murray & Djokovic Team In Doubles
by Matt Fitzgerald|
Last year, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic made waves in Canada when they paired up in doubles. This week, Djokovic has signed up with another leading singles player, world No. 5 Andy Murray.
The two have drawn Sergiy Stakhovsky and Mikhail Youzhny in the first round of the Sony Ericsson Open. It’s a match that will have fans buzzing here in Miami and throughout the tennis community. While players who predominately play singles pair up regularly at tournaments, it’s a rare occasion to have two Top 5 singles stars join forces on the court.
In 2010, each earned their first doubles titles (Djokovic at Queens, Murray at Valencia) and play doubles from time to time with their fellow countrymen. They’ve discussed playing together at some point and this tournament seemed to be the place to do it.
“Yeah, we both wanted to play,” said Murray. “We were talking about trying to play Indian Wells and then I said I wanted to try and play with my brother if I got the chance.”
Murray and older brother Jamie played some terrific tennis in Indian Wells last week, advancing to the quarter-finals. They lost to eventual champions Alexander Dolgopolov and Xavier Malisse in three sets. Djokovic and his partner Viktor Troicki reached the quarter-final stage as well.
The Scot, who trains at Crandon Park and the University of Miami regularly, has played doubles with Djokovic before, but they haven’t teamed up since the 2006 Australian Open, a time when they were just starting to move up the South African Airways ATP Rankings. Friends for a while, he believes they can make some noise in Miami. “If he’s up for it as well, I think we can do well together,” Murray said. He added, “It can be pretty beneficial to your game to play doubles.”
The World No. 1 ranked team of Bob and Mike Bryan begin their quest for a third title here against the American wild card tandem of Ryan Harrison and Jack Sock. The Bryans won back-to-back titles in 2007 and 2008. Last year, they were knocked out in the quarter-finals by Mariusz Fyrstenberg and Marcin Matkowski.
No. 2 seeds Max Mirnyi and Daniel Nestor open with Spaniards Feliciano Lopez and Fernando Verdasco. Mirnyi and Nestor have both won this event in the past with different partners and are looking to win their second team title of the year. They could potentially play Djokovic and Murray in the second round should both teams advance.
2010 champions Lukas Dlouhy and Leander Paes are both back in Miami, but with different players. Paes is seeded third with compatriot Mahesh Bhupathi and they face Eric Butorac and Jean-Julien Rojer in their first match. Dlouhy, partnering Paul Hanley, plays Marcelo Melo and Bruno Soares. Dlouhy and Hanley began the 2011 season with two straight titles in Brisbane and Sydney.
Other seeded teams in the draw include 2010 Wimbledon champions Jurgen Melzer and Philip Petzschner (No. 4), Fyrstenberg and Matkowski (No. 5), Michael Llodra and Nenad Zimonjic (No. 6), Rohan Bopanna and Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi (No. 7) and Robert Lindstedt and Horia Tecau (No. 8).
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